Deep in the heart: Mark Twain and Walker Percy as authors of agency

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dc.contributor Lazer, Hank
dc.contributor Chotiner, Barbara Ann
dc.contributor Kline, Harvey F.
dc.contributor Lahiri, Simanti
dc.contributor.advisor McKnight, Utz Lars Bourland, Laura Lea 2017-03-01T14:36:38Z 2017-03-01T14:36:38Z 2010
dc.identifier.other u0015_0000001_0000443
dc.identifier.other Bourland_alatus_0004D_10568
dc.description Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
dc.description.abstract The following project examines the transformative power of literature against certain problems of the modern and postmodern experience as articulated by political theory. The primary concern is what theologian David Kyuman Kim calls "melancholic freedom," a condition wherein the intelligibility of the self has been compromised by the decreases in personal agency brought on by a modern disconnect from moral and ethical sources. As such, this work is situated within the contemporary debate on the interrelatedness of identity and agency, and thus the work of Charles Taylor will figure prominently. Much of the work of twentieth and twenty-first theorists has centered around attempts to resolve the complications that have developed in the wake of our modern era, to explain the tradeoffs and contradictions. Kim suggests the need for "projects of regenerating agency," which satisfy the following criteria: 1) provide suggestion of a religious imagination at work; 2) support a cultivation of the self; 3) demonstrate a search for moral identity and present opportunities for spiritual exercise; and 4) exhibit an aspiration toward a vocation of the self. It is my argument that engagement with the literary arts, either as a reader or writer, fulfills these conditions and presents an alternative site for regenerating agency. This expansion of Kim's work opens theory to wider application and joins political philosophy and literature in a common project of expanding the discourse on identity and agency. I will demonstrate how the writing and lives of Mark Twain and Walker Percy meet Kim's criteria for such a project. Twain and Percy as authors of projects of regenerating agency advance the case that art has the capacity to be instructive and illuminating as part of our moral discourses in ways that theory cannot replicate. Also, a reading of literature motivated by the concerns of political theory--in this case the discussion on identity, agency, and their points of intersection--allows us to reinvigorate the critical appreciation of these two authors.
dc.format.extent 220 p.
dc.format.medium electronic
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language English
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher University of Alabama Libraries
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Electronic Theses and Dissertations
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections
dc.relation.hasversion born digital
dc.rights All rights reserved by the author unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subject.other Political Science
dc.subject.other American Literature
dc.subject.other Philosophy
dc.title Deep in the heart: Mark Twain and Walker Percy as authors of agency
dc.type thesis
dc.type text University of Alabama. Dept. of Political Science Political Science The University of Alabama doctoral Ph.D.

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